Ireland debt below 100 pct of GDP for 1st time since bailout

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DUBLIN (AP) — Government statisticians say Ireland's national debt has fallen below the symbolically important threshold of 100 percent of GDP for the first time since the country took an international bailout five years ago.

Tuesday's report says debt fell to 204.2 billion euros ($221.5 billion), equivalent to 99.4 percent of gross economic output, in the third quarter of 2015. The rapid improvement reflects tighter reins on spending and Ireland's European Union-leading rate of 7 percent growth last year.

Ireland's debt-to-GDP ratio peaked in 2013 at 123.2 percent but has steadily improved since Ireland exited dependence on EU and International Monetary Fund loans at the end of that year.

Ireland has repaid IMF loans early and refinanced other debt on favorable terms as its credit rating strengthens to pre-crisis levels.

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